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10 Guys Who Have Rocked a Toupee

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Phil Spector shocked the world last week - not when he was found guilty of murder, but when he appeared in his prison photo without his wig. I'm linking to it instead of embedding it because I don't think you should be subjected to it unwillingly. Although Spector might be the creepiest, he's definitely not the only man in entertainment to wear a toupee or a hairpiece. Here are 10 others...

1. Ted Danson

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has been wearing a toupee for years and even poked fun of it in an episode of Cheers when it surfaced that Sam Malone had a little help with his lush head of hair. Danson reportedly only wears the wig for movies and T.V. shows and doesn't mind showing his thinning hair otherwise.

2. Frank Sinatra

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wore toupees for years, according to the man who worked on his hair for movies like The Manchurian Candidate. "He used to have some exceptionally good hairpieces," Jerry Roman said. "But later on he got very sloppy. In his last five years he went into a synthetic piece which really did not look very natural."

3. John Wayne

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wore a toupee since about 1948 on. But he never denied it, and in fact made a joke about it when a reported once asked him about his "phony" toupee. "It's not phony," he responded. "It's real hair. Of course, it's not mine, but it's real."

4. Humphrey Bogart

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wore a toupee but was never seen without it in public. His lover was a wig-maker who worked with Hollywood icons Ray Milland and Gary Cooper before she caught Bogie's eye.

5. Burt Reynolds

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may have been in the closet about his toupee for years, but when he filed for bankruptcy, his unsettled accounts included $121,796.62 owed to Edward Katz Hair Design. When the court documents were made public, the Katz was out of the bag, so to speak.

6. Howard Cosell

According to his Washington Post obituary, wore a toupee for all of his public appearances, which was revealed when Muhammad Ali lifted it off of his head while they were live on the air in the 1960's.

7. Sean Connery

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is obviously a dashing bald man these days, but he's actually been that way since the 007 days. 

8. Bing Crosby

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wore a hairpiece for all of his movies, but in his later years, he hated wearing the toupee so much he started specifically picking out roles that had him wearing hats or nightcaps. His baldness became well-known when he decided to go toupee-less during the USO tours of WWII.

9. Jimmy Stewart

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started wearing a toupee in the early 1950's, but made it less obvious by making it a gray one. It wasn't uncommon for him to go without in public, though.

10. Ben Affleck

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may or may not wear a toupee. A rumor began circulating a few years ago that Affleck and Vince Vaughn were wrestling around at a party, you know, like boys sometimes do, and Affleck's toupee supposedly wasn't secured and flipped back in front of several Hollywood notables. He swore them all to secrecy, but it leaked anyway. He has since denied it. What do you think?

Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg. Other suspects include Marv Albert, Errol Flynn, Donald Trump (although most people who have seen him close up think it's probably just a spectacular combover), Hank Williams, Jeremy Piven, Nicolas Cage, John Travolta, William Shatner and Mel Gibson. Are there more that belong on the list? Let us know in the comments.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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